UPDATED: The Ellen DeGeneres Show is shaking up its top producing ranks following allegations of toxic workplace environment, which triggered an investigation by WarnerMedia.
Gone are Ellen executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman as well as co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, Deadline has confirmed. Additionally the show’s house DJ, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, has been named co-executive producer, I have learned.
The exits and Boss’ promotions were revealed during a virtual staff meeting today.
I hear DeGeneres led the meeting and opened it with the staffing announcements. She was emotional but emphatic about creating a culture where people feel good, noting that employees need to feel happy in order to make a show that makes people happy, sources tell Deadline.
I also hear DeGeneres vowed to interact more with her staffers, revealing that she was shocked to find out that people on the show had been told to avoid eye contact with her. She encouraged staffers to talk to her.
DeGeneres again apologized to her staff, sources said. She was personal, opening up about being introverted and having good days and bad days, which causes her to sometimes keep to herself in her own space, something she acknowledged could be misconstrued as her not being nice.
“Does that mean I’m perfect? No. I’m not,” DeGeneres reportedly said. “I’m a multi-layered person, and I try to be the best person I can be and try to learn from my mistakes.”
Also announced today were HR changes to improve the environment on the show, including reporting of any issues, sources said. According to sources, WarnerMedia’s investigation, which included more than 100 interviews, did not find evidence that the show fostered a racist work environment but did uncover occasional incidents of racial insensitivity, something the Ellen executive producers, speaking on the video call, vowed to correct.
Going forward, the popular daytime talk show will be spearheaded by exec producers Mary Connelly, Andy Lassner and Derek Westervelt.
Boss recently spoke out in support of DeGeneres, saying that “there’s been love” on the series and praising her kindness.
The producer departures, first reported by Variety, come two weeks after Warner Bros. addressed allegations, outlined in a BuzzFeed report, and promised “staffing changes on the show,” They were expected to include the exit of Glavin, who had been singled out in multiple complaints featured in the story.
“The fact that a deeply flawed BuzzFeed article has led to the termination of an innocent man – a popular figure and a creative force behind the Ellen show and a string of other projects produced with Ellen – is shocking,” said Michael Plonsker, attorney for Kevin Leman. “Kevin is devastated by being scapegoated and is not yet ready to comment.”
The BuzzFeed report, which led to the WB investigation, alleged a toxic work culture on Ellen based on anonymous testimonials by one current and 10 former employees, who said they faced racism, bullying and intimidation.
“Though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management,” WB said in a statement July 31. “We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them. Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.”
In a note to her staff from July 31, DeGeneres apologized for any mistreatment of employees.
“Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show,” she wrote. “I could not have the success I’ve had without all of your contributions. My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues.”